NASA Challenge: Bio-Inspired Advanced Exercise Concepts

This Challenge seeks bio-inspired approaches for compact and efficient Advanced Exercise Concepts (AECs). These concepts are needed to counteract muscular atrophy and improve the overall wellness of astronauts living in zero-gravity during a 21day mission.
NASA Bio-Inspired Advanced Exercise Device: Information Webinar.  Register here

On Thursday 29 October from 11:00 - 11:45 am EDT, the NASA Challenge Owner will hold a webinar to share:

  • Why an exercise device
  • The current state of exercise devices
  • The vision for a Bio-Inspired Advanced Exercise Device
  • Objectives behind the challenge

Attendees at this event will have the opportunity to ask clarifying questions through a chat box (no intellectual property is to be shared). Join us for the live webinar, you must register to attend. For those that cannot attend, the recording link will be made available several days later.  All submissions for this Challenge must be made through the InnoCentive website prior to the deadline.
Challenge 9933803
Deadline: December 16, 2015
Reward: $15,000

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nhoeller's picture

Additional Information on NASA Exercise Challenge

Based on the October 29th webinar and additional information from, the deliverable is a bio-inspired mechanism that requires no external power source (other than that provided by the person exercising), fits in a space 13" x 21" x 7.5" and weighs less than 20 lbs.  As shown in the image, the mechanism is connected to a cable with a 6' range of motion.  The mechanism needs to support both resistive (adjustable force up to 400 lbs, simulating free weights in normal gravity) and aerobic exercise (adjustable loads up to a peak of 750W, simulating rowing).

It is essential that the mechanism deliver realistic (flat) load profiles.  For resistive loads, the return stroke should have the same load characteristics as the 'pull' stroke, with the option of exercises profiles involving a return stroke load that is higher than the 'pull' stroke.  This suggests an energy-storage (rather than passive or elastomeric) mechanism.  Examples of possible bio-inspired components include series-elastic actuators being developed by the MIT Biomimetic Robotics Lab and research into the properties of cucumber tendrils by the Wyss Institute

Submissions need to include a well-defined bio-inspired solution including a feasibility assessment, literature review, key calculations and an implementation plan.  Judging criteria include "relevance, creativity, simplicity, feasibility & comprehensiveness."  Deadline is end-of-day December 16/2015 (EST).  All submissions must be through the Innocentive site by registered Innocentive solvers (no cost to register).

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